Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 30


Improvijazzation Nation, issue # 30

Brought to you by: Zzaj Productions
D. Metcalf, 5308 65th Ave. SE, Lacey, WA 98513



Straphanger’s Ball (CD, featuring Hal McGhee & many other original improvisors)

INTERVIEW with Jeb Branin, of The Crass Menagerie magazine

Satoko Fuji (hot jazz CD)

Blacklight Braille (by our new reviewer, ASHLEY)

Paul Stratta

John Mastroianni (sweet & saxy jazz)


Slow Smile

Davey Williams (HOT improv guitar)

& much MUCH more!!!



It’s not often that I take space in this ‘zine to promote my own works (though I guess, to be fair, I HAVE done a bit more of that in the last year or so than in the earlier years)… this announcement is such a LANDMARK for Zzaj Productions, though, that I felt it ABSOLUTELY necessary to take a moment of your time with it.

Zzaj Productions has pressed it’s FIRST CD! We haven’t been able to press them yet, becoz’ we’re (like, REALLY) strapped for buckz’… SO, we need YOUR help! If you order through THIS announcement (be sure to mention that you saw it in issue # 30), you can get the CD for only $13.00. The “normal” price will be $15.00. We need about 30 orders to go to press. The CD is titled “Independent’s Day”, & features:


Zzaj – Kurzweill keyboard, spoken-word

Kramtones – Keyboards, percussion, engineering

Peter Tomshany – Guitar, Moog synth


74 minutes worth of highly original & energetic music. Please mail all orders to 5308 65th Ave SE., Lacey, WA 98513. The first 3 orders to arrive will get a free (4 issue) subscription to IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION – so, get your order in as SOON as possible!

Rotcod Zzaj


Nefastismaschine: MAXWELL’S DAMON – I’m not really positive as to where/how this CD was referred from (tho’ I suspect it may be via Jeffrey Morgan). Minimalist to thee “MAX”, straight-ahead improvisation that will warm th’ cockles of any jaded ears! Primarily percussion and electronics, there are stretches where it sounds like th’ apartment upstairs movin’ furniture around, others where you’d swear you were in a spacecraft severely in need of repairs (or full of gremlins). Ten “movements” in all, a true adventure, like nothing you’ve heard lately – even if you DO listen to minimalist most of th’ time. Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer. Contact at Ulrich Bottcher, Goebenstr. 8, 65195, Weisbaden, Germany Rotcod Zzaj

Dave Fuglewicz: RABBIT FURY – Our last tape for review this issue is a grand excursion from Dave. He’s joined by Marty Ashmar, Chuck Dimling & Eugene McBray (side 1) & Pete Comley (who played with me on a couple of live sessions a couple years back) (side 2). The musics on this go-round are some of the most DYNAMIC I’ve EVER heard come out of the Fuglewicz studios. Much more form-based than (many) pieces I’ve heard him do before. There are plenty of “floating” structures, too… they’ll fly you to Jupiter, Mars or thee planet of yer’ choice. Strong guitar influences over Dave’s synth sculpture works. Side 2 (with Pete) is much more “space-oriented” than the pieces on the first side. Those who enjoy music that spurs you to new (mental) heights will find this VERY rewarding. Gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Contact at POB 48191, Doraville, GA., 30362, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj


Straphanger’s Art Ensemble: STRAPHANGER’S BALL – This CD (yep, it’s NOT a tape) came in from our long-time home-taper friend Hal McGee. It’s the result of some very spontaneous improvisations between him & a “cast of thousands”. John Burgos, Keith Nicolay, Edward Rollin, Bruce Waid & Doug Walker joined in th’ frenzy. Sections where there is MUCHLY horn, this moves in turf where few dare to tread… it’s strangely beautiful, th’ kind of improv that’s GRAND, when it works. Some odd vocal patches strewn about th’ playing field lend points and counterpoints that keep yer’ “ears on their toes”. Parts of this remind me of live jamz from WAY back, as the “Mad Metcalf Ensemble”. The really NICE thing is that the synths are a PART of this collective, rather than overpowering it… quite often when improvisors attempt to use electronic keyboards, things come out in favor of th’ synth sounds, but this is “equal” music. A highly interactive and interesting listen that will make those with improv “in their blood” wish they coulda’ been there! Gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who love “loose music”. Contact at Hal McGee, 1909 SW 42 Way, Apt E., Gainesville, FL 32607-5407 Rotcod Zzaj

…..many of you know that I have a penchant for interviews… the following is an e-mail interview with th’ creator (& prime mover) for an e-zine called “The Crass Menagerie”, Jeb Branin. Since th’ focus of this ‘zine is on “hard” rock, somewhat in th’ “metal” vein, I wasn’t sure Jeb & I’d see “ear ta’ ear!” Show JUST how wrong one (editor) can be, eh? He’s a KEWL writer, with a passion for th’ music he writes about, & I thot it MOST apropo to include this… those interested SHOULD get in touch with him – has has a FINE ‘zine… you DO need e-mail to get it, but it’s WORTH it!

Zzaj: What inspired you to start/do “The Crass Menagerie”? &, how long did it take you to get it “going”?

Jeb: I have been doing zines for about 12 years now. The Crass Menagerie actually has roots that far back, even tho’ it is only 4 years old. I was doing a zine called “NOT FRAGILE” (a name I stole from the ’74 B.T.O. album) with a good friend of mine. It was slow coming out and we were limited in space so we were getting tons of albums that never got reviewed and I felt bad that so much was being overlooked. So 4 years ago I decided to start a one-page newsletter in which I would do “Quickie” reviews of all the stuff that couldn’t go into the “regular” zine. I didn’t know how a one page newsletter would go over, but I thought it was the least I could do for all those people who spent money sending me albums to review. I distributed it by free subscriptions and by sending it in bulk to labels and distro places, who then put it in their mail order as a free something extra for people. Much to my surprise The Crass Menagerie took off like a shot! People really loved it. I kept it up as a newsletter (eventually going to 4 pages) for three years. But it was too popular for its own good. I was getting requests from labels for thousands of them each month. The postage costs were outta sight, and I couldn’t really generate any income with it (no ad space, it was free, etc.). I couldn’t keep up with demand and I was getting tired of telling people “Sorry I can’t send you any.. It costs too much to mail to Europe” or whatever. It started to be a real drag. I started having other zines print the whole newsletter as a column, but that was a lot of hassle, too. I was ready to call it quits when the idea of doing it as an E-mail zine hit me. I liked that idea better than a web site because it seemed more in the vein of the original spirit of the zine. So here we are. I’ve been doing the e-mail thing for a few months and it has been great.

Zzaj: I’ve found that many readers/performers (of my ‘zine,
IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION) do NOT have (even) e-mail… ergo, I’ve had to keep th’ print format ‘zine going. Do you have any plans to revive the print format someday?

Jeb: My dream come true would be to do a zine full time and make a living at it but that is just a dream. So for now I am going to see how far I can take the e-mail thing. I left a lot of my subscribers out in the cold by going e-mail because they weren’t online at all. I felt bad, but to make it up to them I sent every single subscriber a free CD. Actually I’m still working on sending those out. It’ll take a long time.

Zzaj: Thee netz’ are changin’ th’ way music is produced. Some music is being composed on line already. D.I.Y.’er’s (who are hooked up already)
are already taking (some) advantage of the technology… what are your views on “the future of music” (America & the world).

Jeb: I think it’ll become more and more an online thing. The Internet can be the great equalizer, because you can reach people and learn things without a lot of money (beyond the initial investment of getting a computer). My zine is an example of how a DIY attitude and approach were preserved by the internet. I don’t know if people will ever only buy their music online, but it could happen. When digital recording (like recordable CDs) are commonplace I could see you sticking a disc in your burner, sending your credit card # to a label and then getting access to download an album. The technology is certainly there right now, it just isn’t widely available yet. As for composing music online, I can see a limited appeal. There is some music that just isn’t effectively generated electronically, yet.

Zzaj: In a former iteration, my nick was “Captain Cappucinno”, due to use of caffeine as a substitute for “other things”. Do you have any particular preference for “mood enhancement”, or duz’ th’ music “do it for ya'”?

Jeb: Well, four weeks ago I gave up caffeine because I was so hooked. I used it to stay awake and to battle headaches; but ironically the headaches were from my dependency on it. And I was so tired all the time because I was always in a state of battling “coming down” from caffeine. I don’t think people realize how addictive the stuff is! Anyway, I feel a million time better (after a very looooooooong first week). Other than that I have never used any chemicals or alcohol. I get off on the music. The other stuff scares me. I come from a long line of alcoholics and it isn’t something that I even am attracted to.

Zzaj: You’ve expressed (some) interest in more “different” kinds o’ music(s) for CM… once that floodgate is opened, there can be a lot of “chaff” floatin’ thru yer’ mailbox. How do you (as a reviewer) sort
through that, or is it a problem?

Jeb: I give it a bad review. I have no problem saying something sucks in print. If it is bad beyond my ability to stomach it (which is pretty bad) I just ignore it. There are some things that don’t even deserve a line of print. When I have abslutely no idea if it is good or bad because it is beyond my frame of reference I usually try to pass it to someone who does have a clue and get them to write a review for me. The only thing I don’t want is for the CM to lose its focus as a zine for underground and extreme music.

Zzaj: ‘zines like “Factsheet Five”, GAJOOB (&, yes, IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION), have been around for some 10 years or more now… do you think they (can) tend to “stale out” after that long, or does/can th’ music change enough to keep the reviewers “inspired” enough?

Jeb: Wow. Good question. I think things can get stale, yes. It isn’t guaranteed to happen but it often does. Usually what you see is someone who is so jaded they don’t like anything and they write nothing but sarcastic reviews and articles. I was on staff at a zine like that and I walked away. Anyone who thinks he/she has seen it all, really has only closed their mind or has stopped looking for something new. I mean if I only reviewed standard heavy metal (which is how I started) I would be jaded too. But I expand my range and that not only keeps me from getting jaded with all music, it actually even keeps me from getting bored with heavy metal. There is too much variety in the underground to ever be able to hear and see it all. Plus new things come to life everyday.

Zzaj: Do you play any music yourself? If so, wot?

Jeb: I played in a couple of bands for fun when I was a teen. One was a bluegrass band and one was a metal band. I was terrible. I studied guitar for four years and sucked as bad when I was done as when I started. I am the typical music critic who can’t play, so writes. I can’t even sing. I do have rhythm and could probably learn drums, but I have no desire anymore.

Zzaj: I notice that you do a lot of “interviews”… are they “in person”, live? Or are many of them via electronic channels?

Jeb: Both. Most in the CM are via e-mail, but by far most I have done over the years were in person or on the phone. Live is certainly the best way to do it because you can play off of what they’ve said and can encourage more feedback if it is needed. But e-mail is A HELLUVA LOT easier and lets me do more in less time.

Zzaj: What’s the most “creative” music you’ve listened to (say in the last year)?

Jeb: Another good question. Now realize that creative doesn’t always mean enjoyable. For example OPTIGANALLY YOURS are very creative (they play only optigans, an old toy/instrument made by Mattell) but they are not very enjoyable to listen to. The most creative that I like are THE DOG FACED HERMANS who play a wild jazz/punk hybrid. Others are SKELETON KEY who do very creative pop, with percussion played on garbage and GOB (the one from Reno, not the one from Canada) who are a noise-core band who are unbelievably intense and heavy.

Zzaj: Does “D.I.Y.” have a chance in the face of the BIG 8? Will the nets help to make it (D.I.Y.) A VALUABLE music resource over the next 10 years (or so)?

Jeb: I think so. In 1996 for the first time ever, independent labels reported market shares and profits that exceeded those of the big boys. That is a step in the right direction. Access to the music has always been the biggest hurdle. People just don’t get to hear someone making cassettes in their basement unless they go looking for them and even then they might not be found. If some guy in his basement can reach as many people as someone signed to Sony, (a real possibility in an online culture) then it is up to the quality of the music. Some people are always going to just listen to whoever is popular and some people aren’t into music enough to do anything more than get their 11 CDs for a penny from Columbia House or turn on their radio, but if the music can hold its own (and obviously it can) I think DIY is the wave of the future. . Jeb Branin

Lawrence Salvatore: BUMPIN’ ON BEEWAY – This cassingle from Lawrence is cute, & VERY well constructed. Pop-rock, sorta’ funky “glam”, as he calls it! Not a LOT to say ’bout it; after all, it IS only one tune, albeit extended. As with nearly ALL Salvatore music(s), thee keynote is FUN with music… no drab droning here to drive yer’ to distraction. Gets a RECOMMENDED… he’s got a TON of other music available, that IS on longer play cassettes… contact at 211 South Hubbard St., Joliet, IL 60433-1308 Rotcod Zzaj

Liona Boyd: PADDLE TO THE SEA – Based on a book by Holling C. Holling, and backed by Liona’s sweet classical guitar, this storytelling session is QUITE interesting (as I shoulda’ otter’ known ‘t’would be, since Zalnikor of Rotton Kidz’ sent it). If you’ve never listened to stories on tape(s) before, this may be a new experience – but not a BAD one – at ALL! She infuses th’ entire story with th’ energy & gumption of a lusty sailor, I’d say! Counterpointed by her guitar, it takes on th’ air of a bard’s tale, verzure. Not poetry, & not “just” classical guitar, this is a magick you’ll have to write for to experience… it gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from this reviewer. Contact at 1113 Leslie St., Don Mills, OT M3C 2J9 Rotcod Zzaj

Satoko Fujii: INDICATION – We reviewed a CD by Satoko in the last issue, “How Many”. Though I gave it a “favorable” review, it didn’t come out at th’ “top” of th’ list (whatever list that would be)… well, THIS excursion through her solo piano artistry. They’re mostly original compositions. This is that “classical” kind of music (& I don’t mean “the classics”) that gets down in there under yer’ last meal & STICKS to your ribs. Very, VERY pretty! Played with more than just a set of accomplished hands, her soul comes shining through like the sun after a dreary day. This CD will stay in the Zzaj collection for the LONG haul. I’m not talking about “just” pretty music, either. She flits about like a butterfly, stylistically, & will KEEP your blood moving. This is some of the most GIFTED & expressive solo piano (jazz with a classic flavor) I’ve heard in many years. As you might be able to discern – I really LIKED this music. It gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – in fact, it gets the PICK of this issue for “best solo piano”! Contact at 1168 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02134, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Bob Jordan: DON’T LISTEN TO ME – Jordan’s work is (by now) well known in these parts. Bob joined me and Bret Hart on an INSANE collaboration, under the group name “The Oxymorons”. I reviewed another tape of his (that came in a package from Hart) back in issue # 28. “Don’t Listen To Me” has solid roots in th’ folk genre, though Bob can play (just about) any style, it sounds like to me. This is a MOST interesting journey, in fact, that’s th’ way he writes it up in th’ liners on th’ j-sheet… “the culmination of my journey to date”. When I say “folk music”, don’t get turned off… it’s vibrant, expressive & alive. Even a few “effects” (of sorts) thrown in along the way. Th’ key to enjoying Bob’s music is to have a love of life & th’ living OF it! I found it to be very relaxing & enjoyable, but with just th’ “edge” I need to keep me interested. Gets a HIGHLY REOMMENDED! And DON’T listen to him when he says “Don’t Listen To Me”. Contact at POB 281, Grafton, MA 01519, or by phone to (508)839-3692 Rotcod Zzaj

Residual Effect: RESIDUAL EFFECT – Neighbor of a friend of mine (from work) named Martin Fisher sent this lil’ tape in. He cautioned me that this tape, in particulate, is th’ “older” of th’ two submitted. Well, it’s not got one iota of “bad” influence on THIS one. For a three piece, this lil’ group KICKZ butt! What genre ter’ “put” it in? Be a lil’ hard, actually, ‘coz e’en tho’ they got a hammerin’ sound, lil’ metal git-ar jammin’ & rammin’ over top, this still zoundz’ like “MOTOR” music ter’ me… shades o’ B.T.O. (anybody remember THEM?)… but then, they throw in some really WIERD soundin’ vox through a voice-box contraption, to good effect! Sho’ makes me wanna’ git OUT on my Harley & KRANK on down thee road! It SOUNDS like there’s live drumz’ on there, but I (rather) suspect some kind o’ percz’ mo-chine (which is a bit of a drawback, if it’s true… this kinda’ music NEEDS that live drummin’)! Th’ real vorce in this music is th’ slammin’ bass & that ‘LECTRIC git-ar! We kin’ ‘ardly wait fer’ yer’ next one to be released, Martin! GREAT “road” sounds that’ll keep yer’ motor runnin’ – gets a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED fer’ those with ANY salt left in their blood! Contact at (360)956-0213 or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

with issue # 30, we premiere another reviewer… her name is Ashley, & it’s (QUITE) apparent from the first comple of reviews she’s written (below) that she understands th’ music(s) she writes about… look forward to more reviews from her in th’ near future…

Owen Knight: SONGS FROM MOONLIGHT SNOW (1996) – Owen Knight along with Blacklight Braille and Bitter Blood Street Theatre bring us 75 minutes of sound-framed spoken word reminiscent of the beat generation with a pagan twist. A semi-distorted narrative gives light to vivid imagery of mother nature and mystical stories of the creatures within. Backed by an inspiring melody with a touch of malaise, Knight’s voice weaves in and out with the occasional accompaniment of Paula Berberich. Discordant guitar plucking and
trance drumming float around the words with an occasional jump in keyboards and flute. If Current 93 joined the 4AD crew, you might have something comparable. Fascinating! – Contact at 9447 State Route, 664 North, Logan, Ohio, 43138 ASHLEY

Blacklight Braille, Zauzomank Castle (1993) – Variety would be the key word here. This 15 man band from Cincinnati has gone from King Arthur to electra-groove in 60 minutes while using an impressive array of instruments – too many to list. Traveling in and out of narrative, the sound seems to whirl around itself morphing from the minimalistic organics of flutes and wood blocks to the marching oddessy of synth and electric guitar. Casting a medieval shadow, this journey is lined with the adventure and reflection of a time long ago. Using a little bit of found object and experimentation, this band is a prime candidate for Cold Meat Industries – somewhere in the spot where Mortiis meets O Yuki Conjugate (in English with barking dogs). Contact at Vetco Records, 5825 Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45216- ASHLEY

Gary Stroutsos: THE NATIVE HEART – We reviewed Gary’s wonderful “Winds Of Honor” CD last year, most favorably, I might add. As is true with so many musicians of his level of excellence, this effort is “the next step”. His flute is like a paintbrush in the hands of a master (like Van Gogh), dazzling your ears with the magnificence that only a truly free spirit can. His inspiration for these grand compositions came from a tour he made of American Indian homes throughout the country. Jovino Santos Neto (piano) and Epaminondos Trimis (percussion) join him in this jazz-influenced tribute to the music(s) he is so clearly in love with. Gentle music with a cross-cultural soul (and an unbounded spirit)… those who demand fresh energy and talent will not be disappointed. This is, quite simply, the most enjoyable musical experiences I’ve had this year… it gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, without doubt. Contact at Makoche, 208 N. 4th St., POB 2756, Bismarck, ND 58502-2756, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Moshe Levi: MYSTIC WORLD – I ran across announcements about Moshe’s (national) CD release on the newsgroups… it was (I believe) in one of the “new-age” groups. Far more “orchestral” in tone and temper than so many of those who affix that label to their music. There are also vocal trax here, on which Moshe is joined by Lesley Chudnow. “Someday I’ll Win” is cetainly well-performed, but “Children Are The Future”shines thru as the clear “winner” here. Moshe’s travels have clearly included time and sensitive reaction(s) to the world around him. He’s able to use simple structures to evoke images of peaceful worlds that most of wish we could find to live in. Very relaxing, inspirational and heartfelt. Certainly merits a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, especially for those who want more than new age drone. Contact at 3200 Beckham Ct., Plano, TX 75075, or via e-mail to  His website has specific ordering info, or you can call him at (972)405-8589 Rotcod Zzaj

kismet: CURIOUS YELLOW – Now, here’s some refreshing improv! Movement in perpetua, no long segues or horrendous stretches of “nothingness” to bore ya’ to tears. VERY well integrated percussives, & saxes that make this sound like a jaded “big band” effort. Th’ addition of vibes lends credence to that impression. This may well turn out to be th’ “lounge scene” fer’ jazz in th’ year 2000. Clearly improvised, but it sounds like something you’d expect to hear on yer’ first voyage to Jupiter. Real feel of “looseness” in th’ playing that makes a surely “sweet” impression on this reviewer’s aural appendages. If yer’ lookin’ for somethin’ jazzy, new & (quite) hard to define – GET THIS! Gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED fer’ those lookin’ to see where jazz will be NEXT CENTURY! Contact at 2430 Daisy Lane, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Paul Stratta: TAKE IT – Here’s some REAL home produced music… this young fellow is AMAZING! I’m talking production value, as WELL as superb talent! The title track (alone) makes it worth the purchase. Very much self-styled, coming out somewhere between jazz & modern funk! Paul did this ALL at home… he says he believes “I am part of a new wave of musicians that is dramatically changing the music industry.” Well, let me TELL you folks… that’s not idle rambling there! This boy’s GOT it – in SPADES! These are more than just “catchy” lyrics – there’s SOUL in that youngblood. I mean – he’s TALKIN’…. not AT you, but TO you… you can FEEL it! We in th’ hometaper world have professed (for many years now) that “change was coming”. “TAKE IT” shows beyond ANY shadow of doubt that it’s BEEN here & is movin’ on along! Some of the sweetest & most inspired ballad work I’ve ever heard. This not only gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – it gets the PICK of the YEAR for “best home produced” music! Contact at PM Productions, 3 Kristina Way, Shoreham, NY 11786, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Jeff Reichman: HUMAN COMEDY – Jeff’s 3 song EP tape will be of GREAT interest to those with folk-rock roots. He’s got a STRONG lyrical style & vox that just won’t QUIT. Clear recording, & his words shine through NICELY. A complaint about many “folk” artists is that they often rush the words in a song, to the point where their message is totally lost… he’s overcome that peril nicely! Joe Stout’s organ playing is a nice addition, making for a VERY unique sound, in th’ context of a “folk-rock” group, anyway. Jeff & crew DESERVE to be heard. They get a RECOMMENDED from us, for sure!!! You need to put (at least) 6 songs on your next release, though, Jeff! Contact at 123 Righters Ferry Rd., Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004-2326, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Terry Eason: THE SUN ALSO SAYS HOWDY – Terry’s solo CD is an odd combination of rock orientations, with strange orchestrals floatin’ in & through his images. The Minnesota based guitar artist has a vision to share, no doubt about that. I really liked his compositional style – there’s not ONE boring track! On the other hand, the recording isn’t the cleanest I’ve ever heard. Terry’s ENERGY for the music is what saves this from enny bad comments… that’s especially true of “Living Proof”, the 4th track in – I genuinely GROOVED on that (a sorta’ “Stones” flavored thang)! He has a really distinctive style, too. Shades of ol’ groups (late ’70’s) try & peek through every once in a while, but they’re only “influences” – he’s a true INDIE, if ever I’ve heard one! Definitely gets a RECOMMENDED, especially for those in to rawk with GUTS! Contact at Reticulated Records, POB 580878, Minneapolis, MN, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Kenyata Sullivan: EAT, DRINK & BE JERRY – Released on Opulence, this tape sounds like those ol’ jam sessions supreme we used ta’ have here in OlyWa (about 15 years ago or so). Jazz-flavored, horny as ‘l & some great percz’ ta’ go with it! Some WIERD sounding keyboards on here, ya’ know, “space voice” Rhodes, or somethin’ like that! I just REALLY enjoyed it – BUT, it had no CREDITZ’ on it… c’mon, Kenyata, TELL us who these boyz’ & gurlz’ ARE next time ’round. Whoever is pluckin’ that bass has got SOME sense of timing… very nice jaunt into ’90’s “be-bop-a-lula” territory. Despite thee lack of info, this tape gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating – especially for those who remember “Uncle Meat”! Contact at Opulence, POB 2071, Wilmington, NC 28402-2071 Rotcod Zzaj

EHI: MISSING PIECES – EHI is Brian Noring’s (FDR Tapes) playing moniker for his solo outings. There are only 2 pieces where he’s joined by guests. This tape is an excursion into “gentle” noise turf, as well as the “outer limits”… sonic explorations that will put you in a slowly soaring orbit (around Jupiter, or the Crab Nebulae), thinking back through all the good/bad things you’ve done. That’s expecially true of the opening cut, “Rest Assured”. A bit long at 8:17, but worth the wait. Other pieces remind me of what th’ innards of the paper shredders at Billary’s orifice must’ve sounded like right after “Travelgate”, or th’ untimely death of that Foster dood. If you can’t stand a little “unknown” in th’ musical mix, this will (literally) scare you… BUT, if you’ve got some “pirate” in your blood, you’ll agree with us that this tape is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Liked it, verzure! Contact at F.D.R. Tapes, 1258 E. 25th St., Des Moines, IA 50317 Rotcod Zzaj

John Mastroianni: LIVE AT THE SILVERMINE – This CD, in from Braithwaite & Katz Communications, features John’s amazing & sensitive work on alto & soprano sax. A four piece group, pretty basic – but, Mastroianni reaches right out & GRABS you. Those who love jazz with HEAT in it will LOVE this musical wonder. What comes across most vibrantly is John’s fervor for PLAYING. I’m sure th’ live setting had much to do with th’ high energy being conveyed here (I know that always helps ME when I’m playing), but there’s far more going on here. You are (literally) WRAPPED in the embrace of his saxophone… surely takes me back a few years, to th’ jazzkellers of Frankfurt & Mainz. Cool music for cool people! This is one of the best jazz albums I’ve listened to this year, & gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, ‘specially for those who like their jazz influenced by the passion of the moment! Contact at 1168 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02134, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Cheryl Gunn: VANITY OF VENUS – Creative Service Company sent this debut CD in… CSC hasn’t “let us down” yet (& I don’t expect they ever will). There are obvious comparisons to be made, at least in her compositional style… Susanne Ciani comes to mind immediately, but with noticeably more synth crafting. She seems especially fluent at blending synthesized vocals in layer upon layer with her fine acoustic piano work. The percussives (and bellwork) also lend a special aura to her musics. If you lump this in with “new age” – SHAME on you! I was especially impressed by her collaborations with the acoustic guitar phrasings of Javier. Simply BEAUTIFUL. Her husband’s (Nicholas Gunn) flute work will astound you as well. I wouldn’t advise you to play this CD while on any long road trips… you’d veer over a cliff pretty quickly, having been inspired (by her music) to think you could FLY! This is some TRULY “sweet” music… gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from us, without qualification. If you love orchestral music with FIRE, you MUST have this! Contact at Creative Services, Company, 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Kamau Daaood: LEIMERT PARK – Those who love the integration of the spoken word with fine music(s) will not be able to do without this CD (in from Braithwaite & Katz Communications)! I long ago found myself attracted to the power of this kind of communication… throughout the years, I’ve made my own forays, inspired by others who have done such, notably Gil Scott-Heron. The message(s) of the times that Gil spoke of, however, often required the ANGER to be expressed. I imagine that once an artist gets in a certain “groove”, it’s hard to move away from. The advent of rap & hip-hop has often rendered a spate of ever harsher words, sometimes only for capital gain (which renders the artform useless). Kamau’s debut recording proves that all is NOT lost! The entire experience is so much a HEALING one that it’s impossible to relate (anymore) to words that suck the very life out of our society. Do NOT interpret me incorrectly, however… his words still carry STRENGTH… POWER… this kind of performance art can only come when the artist has LIVED through their words! “Liberator Of The Spirit” (a trib to John Coltrane) is my favorite cut… I’ve never heard such raw energy before! Those in our audience who prefer the purity that words can bring to music absolutely MUST have this CD. Daaood IS what tomorrow’s word weavers SHOULD be! This (not only) gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – it is our PICK (for the decade) for “best spoken word”! I can’t express this strongly enough… if you want words and music combined to make beauty – GET THIS – NOW!!! Contact at 1168 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02134, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Slow Smile: BACK FOR GOOD – “Slow Smile” is, apparently, th’ stagename for one Gary Burt’s excursion into rockin’ punkland. &, on this CD, th’ weight’s in th’ MUSIC, not th’ “theme”, or th’ “genre”. ‘e might not like th’ comparison, but this comes across like th’ Beatles might’ve sounded in th’ present… S-T-R-O-N-G rock punctuation, great striding rhythm guitars – but, with a powerful taste o’ psychedelia. Not a lame piece ON here, people. Only prob izzat it’s a DEMO CD, & there’s only three samples uv ‘iz mastery. My favorite cut was “Wake Up”… lyrics (when reading them) don’t come across as anything particularly astounding, BUT when Gary weaves them into his (solo) music, it’s absolute KEWL! Now, NEXT time yer’ come at me, man, make sure it’s a FULL LENGTH CD, ‘k? If yer’ wanna’ hear th’ way that rock’s GONNA’ sound after 2000, then this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. GET it! Contact at Rice Pudding Records, POB 135, TOTTON, SO40, 2ZN, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Christoph Gallio & Gertrude Stein: CHRISTOPH GALLIO & GERTRUDE STEIN – Improv fer’ th’ true connoisseur… the group (Christoph on soprano & alto sax, Ellen Christi doing vox, William Parker on bass & Rasheid Ali on drums) is based in Europe (Switzerland). This is HARDCORE improvisation, not for th’ weak-minded. If you can’t follow “space scat”, or need chord patterns to lead yer’ by th’ earz, yer’ outta’ luck here. Energy is HIGH level, intensity just won’t STOP! Ali’s percussion is more’n just “support”; when combined with Parker’s bass, it forms a unit that can’t be beat! If you’re just starting out listening to improvisation, & think you have a true appreciation for “free-based” music(s) – this is the TICKET! Gallio also plays in a group called “Day & Taxi”, who we MAY try to get for next year’s Experimental Music Festival, here in Olympia. I really LOVE his sax playing – leaves plenty of room for th’ other players, but makes it clear that he KNOWS th’ turf he treads when he wails out in th’ night. One of the most unique parts of this whole experience (& something that carries it into a TOTALLY different dimension than (just) improvisation) is the vocals performed by Ellen Christi… puts a shade of “spookiness” on it that can’t quite be defined – strange enough that it makes it FRESH, but not “wierd/screech”… you’ll HAVE to listen to it to know xactly what I mean! This is some GREAT improv, gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, verzure! Contact at Haldenstr. 131, CH-8055, ZURICH, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Tales: STONEHENGE FOR ETERNITY – We reviewed Jean-Luc Herve Berthelot’s first CD a couple issues back… my impressions of that ambient effort were quite favorable… as I recall, the (most noticeable) strength on that CD was it’s refreshing musicality. “STONEHENGE”, as you might imagine, is in a different zone… ancient voices (of the stones themselves?) weave in, out & through the tapestries that Jean-Luc paints (musically) for your ears/mind. His control of the synth environs he weaves are even more evident this time around. There is a lot more “build & crescendo” in these pieces… I said (in my previous review of his works) that he plays with an extreme sensitivity… change that to “passion”! Those readers/listeners WITH an affinity for beautifully executed music that explores (or re-discovers) emotions rooted in ancient traditions will agree (100%) that this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Jean-Luc is a “star” to watch ascending! Contact at SIT Records, c/o Berthelot Ltd., Res. Gaston Roulaud 85/817, 93700 Crancy – FRANCE, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Office Products: PHO10 – Gourd, wotta’ BENT tape! Now, I say that tongue-in-cheek, ‘coz this is (really) some of the most amusing (?amazing?) electronic improv I’ve heard in quite some time… no lame “drone” stuph here… one David Chandler (who plays along with Doug Theriault) sent it up from Portland, Oregon. No fancy-schmancy stuph onna’ j-sheet, just open ‘er up & spin yerself into oblivia! Those who haven’t heard “electronic squeegery” before will be (as) hard put to “label” it (as I am) (even a thread o’ Dixieland mixed in among th’ frazzled spaceship kontrols). The ones who’ve taken this ride before will agree with me when I say that it’s HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. It’s “socially redeeming value” is the ability to “have fun” with the compositions & not take itself too seriously – just what thee home-taper world needs MORE of! Contact at POB 1564, Portland, OR 97207-1564, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

‘zine: BUS 6 – Laura F. sent this little (8 1/2 x 11″) ‘zine in. It was (formerly) known as “Lunatic Fringe” – she changed the name ‘coz that didn’t seem like it “fit” a personal ‘zine (personally, I’d PREFER such a name, but mebbe’ that’s just thee “odd-ist” in me). A LOT of viewpoints, opinions, some poetry thrown in for good measure. No music reviews. Entertaining read, ‘specially her viewpoints on “making a ‘zine” (computer vs. typewriter, etc.) For those into opinion pieces (& that IS a large & important part of American ‘zinedom), this comes RECOMMENDED. Contact at POB 71, Princeton Jct., NJ 08550, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Paul Winter: CANYON LULLABY – I’ve heard flutist Paul Winter before, of course! The earlier albums I heard him playing on, though, were much more jazz oriented than this CD release (in from Creative Services Company). I suspect he was just “makin’ a lil’ coin”… this music certainly shows a much more cosmic (jeez’, did “i” say that?) side of the intimacy he shares with his instrument & natural surroundings. This is performed (as you might suspect from the title) in the Grand Canyon. The echoes he plays against are nearly ghostlike. I know (from some of my own playing experiences in the wilds) that you have to be REALLY in tune with what your instrument (as well as yourself) can do in the wide open spaces. There’s a (rather) long explana of how this was miked (mikes 150 feet on either side), & I won’t bore you with all the detail, but suffice it to say that a LOT of “care & feeding” went in to making this recording. The results are SPLENDID! Winter’s music (on this CD, anyway) is of the “eternal” variety! Just LOVED it – it is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for lovers of beautiful music around the world! GET this one. Contact at Creative Services, Company, 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Chris Spheeris: EROS – Here’s yet another CD in from Creative Services Company. Very Mediterranean influenced music from Spheeris, beautifully done. Chris plays a very expressive nylon guitar over string & orchestral arrangements that will make you sit up and take notice. While it’s very enjoyable music, and very professionally done, it just didn’t seem to carry the “fire” I’ve come to associate with CSC promoted material. Spheeris has over 12 recordings to his credit, so it’s quite understandable why his arrangements/compositions are so solid… on the negative side, with that many releases under his belt, it seems that (at least parts of) this one was “too far down the pike” for the interest levels to be at peak. The one exception to this critique is cut 5, “Quiver”… though a (fairly) slow piece, it has a percussion undercurrent that clearly shows all is not lost. It’s not that I don’t “like” his music; I do INDEED find it attractive. Guess I just expected a little more “oomph”. Still, quality is so high that I must give it a RECOMMENDED, especially for those who love the music of romance! Contact at Creative Services, Company, 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj

Mad Trucker: GONE MAD – Crustracean Records sent this indie CD in… punkz in cowboy boots drivin’ Kenworths ‘cross-country? Sort of a sped-up Western music (faster shades of th’ “Dead’s” “Blue Riders” – or somethin’ like that). Gets ONE vote initz’ favor, verzure – my boy just LOVES to play hiz’ drums along to this. Some WIERD combos… show horns against rapid-fire punkdrumz’ & a KICKIN’ bassline. If you IMAGINE a trucker who just swallowed some o’ those black beauties, then sat right down to hiz’ drumset, you’ll have a pretty good idea 🙂 One thing I’ll say for SURE – they’ve got their OWN style. Git-arz’ twangin’, shore don’t SEEM like punk – but it IZ! Wouldn’t call it a “keeper” xactly, but for those who love some “edge” to their truckin’, it gets a RECOMMENDED. Contact at POB 37384, Milwaukee, WI 53237-0384, via e-mail to , or view their page at  Rotcod Zzaj

Bill Horist: SOYLENT RADIO – Kevin, at Unit Circle Rekkids, sent this (latest) CD release in (faithfully, as he’s been doin’ for a coupla’ years now). This is one of the STRANGEST releases I’ve heard from th’ (already strange) UCR label. Horist VERY effectively weaves voices, bleeps & mechanicals in to his sound sculptures. Th’ replacement word for “alternative” music must be “odd-istry”. This is NOT for the sonically timid or weak-minded. “Soylent” weaves you down a twisted path, merging the normal & the para-normal into one phantastic collage that will (at times) awaken your primal nature. Itz’ a sonic experience that MUST be listened to in the entirety for you to enjoy it (preferably with th’ ‘phones ON). If you’re sonically challenged, i.e., absolutely MUST have structures as a reference point, move on to Dolly Parton or elsewhere. IF, OTOH, you recognize the beauty of carefully-crafted chaos – this is MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at POB 20352, Seattle, WA 98102, via e-mail to , or visit the page(s) at  Rotcod Zzaj

The Best New Age: VOLUME 6 – I’ve never been an “extreme” fan of new age music, as it’s often (been) a lame moniker for burnt-out musicians who (just don’t) have th’ “steam” anymore. Well, Creative Services Company has (as they often do) proven my theory to be totally “wacked”. I’ll be listening through the other 2 volumes over the next couple of months (#’s 4 & 5), & cover them; but this is an ABSOLUTE winner! One of my favorite pieces is “Sacred Ground”, by Craig Chaquico… the energy of the ancients weaves through his guitar strings. It’s true that the music is (all) instrumental, but don’t let that deter you from ordering this one, whether you’ve had frequent exposure to New Age or not. If you’ve ANY sensitivity for well-played music(s), you owe it to yourself to GET this CD. Javaholics will be calmed immediately, the (normally) serene will be challenged & the adventurous will be impressed – I was, enough to give this a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Contact at Creative Services, Company, 4360 Emerald Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80918, or via e-mail to  Rotcod Zzaj


Rotcod Zzaj




Recent experiences lead me to reflect on the impacts of the life of the artist/poet/musician on the unit that can (and should be) his or her inspiration! I’m speaking of the family. Matters not a whit if you have an extended family, or just a cat/dog bringin’ you th’ newspaper over mornin’ cappucinno… if you fail to pay (enough) attention to those in your “zone”, you’ll (often) lose sight of what they provide in your endeavors.

It’s imperative, I think, for anyone doing work “in the arts” to develop a sense of “isolation”… the ability to (purposely) leave behind the cares and worries of the world. Most of us who write or perform know that things like television, newspapers, or just neighborhood “squabbles” detract from our ability to visualize what the dream contains… if you can’t “see” the sounds (or the sounds the words create), your creations will suffer drastically! In fact, they won’t really BE creations… rather, just repetitions of something someone else has written/performed. The depth that’s needed is only reached when we can leave behind inhibitions that dictate certain behaviors or patterns of thought. &, there’s NOTHING wrong with getting down to those levels – that’s what “MAKES” art happen.

The danger is in not being able to “return”. It’s (often) easy to create a world where the dream seems to become our reality. IF the dream involves a world that revolves around the artist (and their art), it’s time to get HOLD of it, & realize that those you’re intimate with (even if it’s just “Rover”) NEED you to share in their everyday pains & joys. A failure to recognize and deal with this is a sure ticket to the HELL that being “truly” alone can be for any artist. Our humanity IS what makes our art, like it or not. The intensity of a certain passage (or composition of any sort) comes from the emotions played out in daily life (whether you admit to that or not). To TOUCH the depths, you must (first) come OUT of them, & PARTICPATE in what some may consider the mundane.

The choir (in this case) is one – ME! The summer & fall were spent doing a number of taped, CD & live performances. It was GREAT to be involved in (all of) those (&, of course, we hope YOU will become involved in them – as a listener)! The cycle of indrawing occurred as it normally does, however. NOW it’s time to get back to the “real” world… experience the pains, fears (it’s nearly tax time again – & that’s enough to frighten ANYONE, I’d say) of those I share these exciting years & eons with.

A diatribe for “normalcy”? By NO means… all I’m saying is “keep yer’ feet planted firmly in the soil”. Have a wonderful holiday season – & we’ll see you NEXT year! Bye’ fer’ now….

Rotcod Zzaj



 I wear a tight

Hiawatha looking

dress as tight as

a hooker’s, stagger

in 6 inch spikes

heels that catch

in the boardwalk

in the salt night

my hair frizzy

The sailors rub

their eyes from

my Maybelline cats

eyes to my

slick tanned

legs, my mother

two steps behind

 c Lyn Lifshin





It was

the water

‘s message


spinal disc

whimsy saw

tawny songs

of sambuca-

high angst

exact curves

of skin

in sea

weed glisten

glands of

scuba vision

press against

bubble bodies

buying your

torso’s sins

in ink

dark lanky

massage of

slow ascent

Blues blow

 c Joan Payne Kincaid




I painted a picture once…


Of ships, nude women, and semen.

A very seductive painting.

So I had to paint it blind

because my virgin eyes

couldn’t bear to see the lust

it portrayed.


Even though my imagination told what there was to see.

Michealangelo would be ashamed.

So would Raphael,


Oh, and most likely, Leonardo.

 Probably because I can’t paint their friendly ideas.

 c Brad Henz






Fugal figures

graceful as Egyptians

drawn lulled and silent

lethargy acquiescence

adrift in kelp

help liaisons

sapiently swim

where osprey soar


Styles are similar

fractals of flesh

suck up summer’s

humming dots of color

sacrosanct… assonant

five part flutes

surprise private ad libs

c Joan Payne Kincaid



 Whisk me

Awaken my

Soldiers of

Warping the

Minding one’s

Only the

Stronger the



c David Sloves



Polyhymnia’s Opus


A fly buzzing in the window creates silent echoes which

reverberate in my brain

The rhythmic beating of its tiny wings pound paces to a

music only the deaf hear –

a burning, aching tone thatpierces stone ears.

A tiny fly levitates itself above tonality – somewhere in the

upper reaches of rhythm,

striking chords unknown to man-made gods.

The smalles creatures, plunking out notes on a piano

too minute to touch –

too minute to see –

too minute to comprehend – but to the fly.

Symphonies conducted by a humming bug – leading

orchestras of imaginary flutes – somewhere – somewhere on the windowsill

where tiny creatures sing.

c Shane Birdsill



Belly Buttons


Belly buttons are fun to play

with. You can always clean out

the lint, explore how deep they are,

wonder. A little diamond earring

really sets off a lovely navel.


Heterosexuals like belly buttons.

So do homosexuals. There is no

discrimination when it comes

to a navel.

 c Barbara Cooper


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